Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)
“Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.
Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.
Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.”
Since I’m a bookworm, it’s not hard to imagine that I would be drawn to this premise. The thought of hunting down rare books for a living? A massive library with books from more than one reality? Where do I sign up to part of this wonderful organization? Alas, it’s a purely fictional setting, but it’s one that can be entered in your imagination with this novel.
Something that I found myself really appreciating is that the author took time to create rules for both the Librarians and for the kinds of worlds that they visit. The concept of a world being “chaos infested” is a great explanation for things like vampires and werewolves (as well as being a sly commentary on the tropes that “infest” YA literature nowadays). It allows the author to both adhere to rules and break them at the same time, which results in some great fun.
I always appreciate humor in my fiction, and several lines in Cogman’s book had me laughing out loud. There were even a few lines that I ended up highlighting so that I could find them again later. And the characters are perfectly suited to deliver these lines and inhabit this world. Irene is resourceful without being overbearing, and she has just enough lack of experience in chaos-touched worlds to keep her slightly off balance as she navigates through the plot.
Frankly, this story is just plain fun. There’s action, mystery, a touch of romance, and an appreciation of the printed word that I love to see. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it doesn’t go to absurd lengths to maintain the levity that it often demonstrates. It flows well, and I finished the book very quickly and began to look forward to the sequel.
This book is what would happen if the TV show The Librarians was set in the world of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels, and it’s awesome. I’d recommend this as a bibliophile’s perfect summer read.